Fourteen-year-old Kaleb Richardson is no stranger to big fish: He’s won nearly a dozen awards from The Billfish Foundation for his marlin releases, and he trains extensively in the off-season with heavy tackle to best use the gear to his advantage. Needless to say, he was well prepared when the unexpected happened during a recent trip with his father Keith in the Gulf of Mexico.
On April 22, 2017, the pair were hunting for a blue marlin in the Green Canyon off Louisiana on Whoo Dat, the family’s 58-foot Jarrett Bay captained by Chris Mowad. They made a circle around the Neptune platform rig, about 120 miles southwest of Grand Isle, when they saw a huge bluefin tuna crashing bait on the surface. Previously they didn’t know tuna fishing in the Gulf of Mexico could produce such monster results.
“He came up behind the center rigger lure, like a submarine pushing a wake,” Keith Richardson says. “The tuna came halfway out of the water and just inhaled the lure. For the first 10 minutes, it stayed on top like a marlin, then it sounded.”
The younger Richardson put his heavy-tackle training and experience to good use, fighting the fish on a Shimano Tiagra 80-wide spooled with 100-pound-test line. In less than an hour, the team was able to boat the giant bluefin, which measured 113 inches in length and had a girth of 86 inches. The fish officially tipped the scales at 835 pounds, and is among the top-five largest bluefin tuna ever landed in the state of Louisiana.
If you’ve ever wondered whether there are giant bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico, the answer is yes.